OP: 「Philosophyz」 by 水谷瑠奈 (Mizutani Runa)
「青春が始まる場所」 (Seishun ga Hajimaru Basho)
“Where Youth Begins”
Last week I was talking about how Rewrite wasn’t starting like a typical visual novel adaptation, muddying its common route portion somewhat, but this week it seems to have swerved back into the usual swing of things. So it’s somewhat more stable now, but also more generic, so I’m sure it’s going to produce some mixed feelings. Before I go on, though, perhaps I should explain the usual visual novel story structure first, for those who have never read one, though if you’ve at least seen some of the adaptations you probably have a rough idea anyway.
A lot of visual novels like Rewrite start linear, before the story begins to branch out, usually with each branch featuring a different character as protagonist. Thus the linear portion is called the ‘common’ route, and is usually heavy on slice-of-life and comedy. The purpose is to introduce the characters and some key conceits of the plot, and also to establish a comfortable status quo, so that when that status quo is inevitably disrupted in one of the later story branches it will produce drama. And so in this episode, very much a ‘common route episode’, is mostly a string of sketches, giving each major character a little screen time to show off whatever personality or chemistry they can manage to display. It’s also a good chance to establish everybody’s leitmotif; a lot of these Key visual novels are quite literally melodrama and carried heavily by the music, so each major character gets a musical theme. There’s a lot of personality in those as well, so it’s good to see 8bit keeping those around. In fact, it would be the height of folly for the adaptation team to not tap into Rewrite‘s rich soundtrack. I would have liked for them to have gone one further and rearranged some pieces for their anime purposes, but I suppose that may be too much to ask. They’re faithful, I suppose? The OP is the same as the VN’s, though the ED is from Harvest Festa, the sequel/fandisc; make of those choices what you will.
What we get in this episode, seems to be a very condense version of Rewrite‘s common route. Common routes are often very long, and Rewrite makes no exception. That’s to be expected since, again, it’s to establish to status quo. An anime adaptation, though, has limited air time and probably can’t afford that length, and has to make adjustments. Rewrite: the anime‘s adjustments seems to be going very, very fast. Each individual character sketch, if we are to keep calling them that, are mostly fine and in some cases actually fairly well executed. But tying each scene to the next is a different matter. It’s almost like Rewrite could not afford proper transitions, and is forced to just move on at times. Many cuts are sudden and haphazard. It’s an issue I had with Grisaia no Kajitsu (same director) as well, which is a bit worrisome, but I do understand that the anime is pressed for time, and has to just get stuff done. And so when the entire harem (or rather, alternate OTP candidates) are assembled in one club in short order, something a less hurried anime would do over several episodes, it is regrettable but understandable. Hopefully this truncation means they are going to put extra effort into the meat of story down the line.
I’ve always been of the opinion, though, that common routes—the introductory, mood-setting stuff—are vitally important. Sure, it’s the big payoff at the end that people remember, but setting up for the fireworks takes more effort than exploding them. Rewrite also does another particular thing with its long common route: it uses it to build paranoia. Last week I noted the surreal nature of Rewrite, and about not being sure about what is real and what is a dream, and Rewrite the visual novel does build on that in its common route. Sure, it was never intensely psychological, but it does play with it. As the Occult Research Club goes searching for the supernatural one is never exactly sure how supernatural anything is. Most notably, we never actually see the hungry ghost until a while later. It’s no secret that the anime is going to be deviating from the visual novel, though, so it’s hard to judge the net effect of these changes right now.
Considering how fast last week’s madness was dismissed, though, perhaps we really shouldn’t be thinking too hard about the supernatural stuff. Come, let us indulge in youth and friendship and all that healthy jazz instead. Oh, and of course, breasts. If there’s on thing I can say with certainty about Rewrite, it’s that the entire thing was a quest for Akane’s breasts. As it should be.
ED: 「ささやかなはじまり」 (Sasayaki na Hajimari) by Mizutani Runa (水谷瑠奈)